A united effort on behalf of several local organizations led to a safer 2017 Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium. The Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance (HCADA) collaborated with Tampa Sports Authority, Tampa Police Department, Tampa Fire Rescue and Sunset Music Festival promoters to help keep drugs out of the venue, encourage a sober experience and offer a place for music fans to hydrate and retreat from the sun and scorching temperatures.
“We applaud the efforts of everyone involved to put the safety of the community first, and we’re proud that our city leaders came together to make this happen,” said Cindy Grant, executive director of HCADA.
HCADA reviewed the Sunset Music Festival website Safety Page and Celebrate Safe Manual and offered recommendations to reinforce the zero tolerance for drugs and underage drinking message, as well as encouraged safe rides after the festival. TPD enforced a zero-tolerance drug policy and, in addition to a stronger police and medical emergency presence, event promoters provided additional shaded areas and free water and electrolytes. The result was evident with fewer people, 49 in all, being treated and released from the hospital. In 2016, two people died after overdosing on the drug MDMA and a combination of heat, drugs and alcohol sent 57 people to the hospital.
“As a drug prevention organization, we just couldn’t sit back and watch a repeat of 2016 occur. It’s our responsibility to take action, and it just proves that when a community comes together for the good of the people, great things can happen,” added Grant.
With a zero-tolerance policy in full effect, TPD arrested 46 people throughout the two-day event. Most of the felony arrests were for possession of the mood-altering drug MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy. MDMA is a dangerous drug that can cause hyperthermia, dehydration, hyponatremia, seizures, hypertensive crisis and cardiac arrhythmia. HCADA is willing to continue working with Sunset Music Festival promoters to design effective drug prevention messaging that would help make the music festival even safer.
About Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance:
Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA) has been in existence, active in the community and supportive of law enforcement, the court system, prevention agencies, and substance abuse treatment providers since its inception in 1989. In 2003, HCADA restructured as a 501(c) (3) to apply for grant funding. Subsequently, HCADA expanded its community based alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse education and prevention activities. It participates as well in the development of related planning strategies, statewide in scope, for the betterment of the Hillsborough County community. HCADA offers open membership and participation to all interested individuals and continues to provide a public forum for sharing information and new ideas. For more information about HCADA, visit www.hcada.com.